15th August, 2018
Gareth Bale has of recent shown that he is now ready to step into the shoes left behind by Cristiano Ronaldo when the latter decided to move on to Juventus F.C. This much he has shown with the spectacular goals he has been scoring for the team in recent games.
To be fair to the player, he has not just started scoring goals for Real. Let’s not forget so quickly that even when the Los Blancos defeated Liverpool in the Champions League final, Cristiano Ronaldo was virtually nowhere to be seen as Gareth Bale led the charge in that game and little did we know that this was a sign of things to come.
It will be recalled that in that final match, the game was very much even and up for grabs until Bale came to the rescue of the Madrid team, scoring that unforgettable overhead kick which took so many people including the 61,000 people in Kiev’s NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium – and many millions more watching on television around the world unawares and restored his team’s confidence in their ability to win that match.
Even when his second goal of the game was as a result of a howler from Loris Karius, the way he scored the goal was a beauty to watch in itself.
That same match proved to be Ronaldo’s last match in a Madrid shirt as well, with the Ballon d’Or holder securing a shock €112million move to Juventus last month, thereby bringing a nine-year association with the club to an end.
To make matters worse for Real Madrid, the coach of the team, Zinedine Zidane stepped down as coach less than a week after guiding the club to a third successive Champions League title. It was surely the end of a very incredible era at the club.
On the back of the departure of both Ronaldo and Zidane, we are now seeing an even better Bale in terms of contributions to the team’s success on the pitch. This is a player that was even thinking about moving on to a different environment after that spectacular win at the Champions’League Competition.
That of course, was as a result of the fact that Zidane and Bale had a somewhat rocky relationship behind the scenes, mostly because the coach made a habit of benching the player in big matches – the Champions League being a typical example.
Add that to the fact that Bale was always considered second to Ronaldo, but in Kiev he rose – literally and figuratively – above the ceiling Zidane’s selection choices set for him and stamped his authority when even Madrid’s Portuguese talisman could not.
Despite his numerous fitness problems in the last three seasons, he has been able to score 42 goals in 68 LaLiga matches, despite not being entirely trusted by Zidane.
His conversion rate across all competitions were also much better than that of his former team-mate last term, with Ronaldo converting 15.66 per cent of his chances, compared to Bale’s record of 21 percent.
The ability to produce such performances in a difficult period would only bring reverence and adulation at any other club in Europe, but at the Santiago Bernabeu Bale has even been subjected to jeers by Madrid fans.
When asked his opinion about the player and his current performances, this is what the new Manager of the team, Julen Lopegetui had to say:
“I’m not going to talk about past seasons,”
“The Bale we have now is committed, content, wanting to have a great season. He is training very well, happy, and we are so happy with him. This has only just begun.”